This is a piece, from Justin Lagat, on the Nike Discovery Cross Country Kenya 2013 championships, which Justin Lagat witnessed. Justin Lagat asked that we get this piece up today, as it was important for the world to see!
Training Group of Emmanuel Mutai, February 2012,
DISCOVERY KENYA 2013:
Kenneth Kipkemoi, who is the reigning African 10,000 meter champion, won the senior men’s 22nd edition of the Nike Discovery Cross Country Championships in Eldoret this weekend. Like in the previous years, the field was awash with some of the world’s best long distance runners, not only from Kenya but from Europe and New Zealand as well, the greater number coming from Italy where the main sponsor of the event, Dr. Gabriele Rosa and Associates come from.
Sometimes, fans think that when an athlete pulls ahead and runs alone, the race won’t be that interesting to watch. Well, it was spectacular when Kenneth did just that! He pulled ahead of the field after the first two kilometers leaving the crowds bewildered as they cheered him on. As I occasionally glanced at him whenever I happened to be running on the opposite side of the track, I could not help but observe that the guy was really great. After the race, he was the topic of the day. That guy really ran!
The winning time was 29.41, which left me doubting whether the distance was really accurately 10km, given such a strong field.
The only other people I remember doing such great front runs are Kenenisa Bekele, while in his best shape around 2006, and Moses Mosop, also in his prime in the 10,000m and cross country events.
Geoffrey Mutai, Eldoret,
Denis Kimetto, the world’s 25km record holder, was second in 29.52. This guy surprised me three times in 2012; winning the Berlin Half marathon, breaking the 25km record and debuting to marathon in the fastest debut time ever. I can’t wait to see what he will do this year, but I am prepared for other surprises.
The Olympic 10,000m finalist, Brendan Karoki, came third in 30.03. Yusuf Biwott followed in 30.09, then Asbel Kiprop in 30.23 and Charles Kimeli in 30.27.
Rita Jeptoo, London 2012,
Rita Jeptoo won the women’s senior race in 20.33, which had also been slashed to 6km instead of the normal 8km. Olympic marathon Silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo came second in 20.35.1. Talking with Priscah a couple of months ago, she had told me that her main focus this year will be the London Marathon. I bet she is using the cross country season to perfect her speed as the field that includes the debut of Tirunesh Dibaba will likely lead to a fast race. Other women who competed in the race timed in closely to one another: Beatrice Mutai in 20.35.7, Betty Wiilson in 20.36, Alice Kimetto in 20.37 and Edith Jelimo in 20.38.
Present at the occasion was the Athletics Kenya chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, who took the opportunity to address the issue of drug cheating which it has been alleged that some athletes are engaging in. He attributes this to some agents who are not registered with the federation and are out to tarnish the image of Kenyan athletes. He said that he is proud of Kenyan athletes being among the best in the world and is optimistic that they shall continue being so and that the only present challenge the Athletics Kenya is having now is to protect the young athletes who do not understand the negative impact dishonest agents will have on them, the country and the future of running.
Before welcoming the one candidate who is the favorite to clinch the Governorship seat in Uasin Gishu County, which is the greater part of Eldoret, Kiplagat expressed his wish to see Eldoret being developed to attract more foreigners to come and train here, in “the best weather in the world”. He talked in favor of big hotels and recreational facilities being erected in the town and the prevention of slums from mushrooming.
The expected governor, named Jackson Mandago, assured the residents and fans who had attended the meeting that uplifting athletics in the region and face-lifting Eldoret town will be on his list of top priorities once he gets to the office. He recognized Imperial Bank for partnering with the Nike Corporation to sponsor the cross country event and urged other corporations around the region to sponsor more races and athletes.
Personally, I think Discovery Kenya 2013 was a great event in which I enjoyed participating. My gratitude goes to the Rosa Association for creating and sponsoring this event and the half marathon as well, which is scheduled to happen next week in the streets of Eldoret town. You can be sure I’ll be there too!